At 32 years old, cancer was the last thing on Shannon Pethick’s mind. The Burlington resident had a busy life and was focused on a future with her husband.

In October 2010, Shannon went to her doctor after experiencing some symptoms and her doctor did a Pap test. The test results later confirmed she had cervical cancer. Upon hearing the news, Shannon broke down and cried.

 

In a six-week period, she underwent chemotherapy, radiation therapy and brachytherapy, a form of internal radiation. Even though she was feeling frightened she decided to fight the disease head-on, staying positive and using humor to deal with the difficult situation.

“At the time I was dealing with so much and to top it off the cancer treatments put me into menopause at 32 and destroyed my prospects of having children,” she says. Through it all her husband, family and friends were a great source of support. In March 2011, Shannon’s doctors gave her the great news that she was cancer-free.

Cervical cancer is mostly preventable and Pap tests are critical in detecting the disease early.  Looking back, Shannon wishes she’d been more proactive about her health. “I did not pay attention to getting a Pap test. In fact, I didn’t have one for many years,” she says. “Having a regular Pap test could have prevented my cancer and I’d be able to have kids.”

Since being diagnosed, Shannon has become a vocal cervical screening advocate. She talks to friends, family and just about any woman she meets about the importance of Pap tests. In 2011, she was inspired to fight back against cervical cancer by taking part in her first Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life event. She proudly walked in the Survivor’s Victory Lap and raised more than $2,300.

Shannon knows that the funds she raises at Relay For Life help Canadian Cancer Society work tirelessly to create awareness about cancer screening programs to help save more lives

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